An Occasional Newsletter from the General Secretary,
Rev. Lyim Hong-Tiong
PCT: The Nation's Sign of Hope
I am delighted to write to you again to inform you about the latest developments in the PCT.
150th PCT Anniversary
A very significant commemoration of the 150 Anniversary of the PCT will take place in 2015. The main celebration will be on Easter Sunday on April 5, 2015. The General Secretary of the WCC, Dr. Olav Tveit has agreed to be the preacher for the occasion. The special General Assembly will take place from April 7 to 11. We shall invite many of our partner churches and the ecumenical organizations to join us so that we can give thanks to God together for planting God’s vineyard on our beautiful island. The activities take place all year long and you shall have a chance to decide which ones you wish to join.
PCT Ecumenical Formation
The PCT held a successful ecumenical formation/training seminar from 6-8 February at the Presbyterian Bible School. About 90 young/student participanted. They came from our Presbyteries and theological colleges and seminaries across Taiwan. This event was a first in the PCT history in terms of its comprehensive nature. The training introduced to them the ecumenical institutions to which the PCT belongs. The lectures included the theological foundations of the ecumenical movement and the role and challenges to the PCT.
Most of you are familiar with the I-Love Taiwan (ILT) movement, a program that has been going on for a decade. We have used this theme in order to conduct mission training of our young people during a three week period. 105 young people participated in 2014 among whom were 69 from overseas: Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Germany, Guyana, Hong Kong, Hungry, India, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malawi, Korea, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, United Kingdom, USA and Zambia. A highlight of this year’s program was the participation of the Council for World Mission Training in Mission members.
Training in Mission
For the first time in its history, the TIM program was hosted by the PCT. The 2014 program was held between March 6 and July 31. The 12 TIM participants came from Bangladesh, Botswana, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kiribati, Korea, Malawi, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Zambia. They were based in the distinguished Tainan Theological College and Seminary. The five-month program was planned and jointly implemented among the three PCT theological seminaries including Taiwan Theological College and Seminary and Yushan Theological Seminary. The emphasis of the placements for the live-in education was among the PCT social services and Taiwan NGOs.
CWM General Secretary Visit and CWM Staff Retreat
Dr. Collin Cowan visited Taiwan from December 4 to 11. This was his first official visit as the CWM General Secretary. The PCT was honored to have him and, for the second part of the visit, his family. Dr. Cowan had an opportunity to meet with the PCT staff, visit the three PCT seminaries, and other educational institutions, witness the healing ministry of a PCT hospital and experience the social welfare ministry of the PCT.
During his visit, a new MOU was signed for the M. TH. Program of the Tainan Theological College and Seminary. The PCT is grateful for CWM’s continuing investment to train leaders for the church. Most of the M.TH. students have not been from Taiwan so we will intensify our efforts to recruit Taiwanese students.
The PCT was pleased to welcome the CWM staff retreat in mid-March.
The Sun Flower Movement and Service Trade Pact with China
A worrisome development in Taiwan in this past year is a proposal by our government to increase service and trade between Taiwan and China. The PCT opposes the proposal in our Executive Yuan because it is inherently economically unjust. The proposed agreement will enable China to open local banks, local businesses such as family restaurants, laundry shops, small service shops in our towns and villages. The Taiwan economy cannot afford such an uncontrolled influx of competition and saturation of small businesses in our struggling towns and small villages. Our own merchants are already suffering from loss of income due to lack of growth.
A major event took place in March when students occupied the Legislative Assembly for three weeks. This “Sunflower Movement” was supported by the general public with a major demonstration by about a half million people to support the students demands. Prior to the mass demonstration, the PCT conducted an open worship service in front of the Legislative Yuan which is occupied by the students. Every day during the student demonstration, the PCT held vigils and prayer fasts at the site.
The PCT issued two statements, one titled “An Affirmation and Appeal
concerning the Students Public Demonstration against the illegal adoption of the Service and Trade Pact with China” and the other
“Condemn State Violence, Pursue Justice and Peace.”
In connection with the student movement the PCT’s position was to affirm non-violent action against the government’s lack of transparency and against its illegal procedure to pass the service and trade pact.
It suppoted civil organizations and political parties from across the island which had joined in this protracted struggle.
These initiatives create a momentous opportunity for Taiwan’s democratization, heighten the concern for Taiwan’s public affairs, and prevent the economy and commerce being used to threaten Taiwan’s independence and sovereignty.
In the end the Ma administration agreed to go back to due process by taking up every provision of the service pact for review.
The Hunger Fast of Lawyer Lim Gi-Hiong
On April 21, a champion of Taiwan’s democratic struggle, began a hunger fast at the Gi-Kong Presbyterian Church against the government’s proposal to begin the construction of the fourth nuclear-power complex. His action drew nationwide attention because of the venue of his fast, Gi-Kong Presbyterian Church. This church was built on the site of his home where in 1982 his mother and two daughters were killed by thugs. Most people in Taiwan believe that the assassination was committed in order to serve a warning to the opponents of the government which was ruling the country with martial law since 1949.
President Lee Teng-Hui address 2014 PCT General Assembly
One of the highlights of the 2014 General Assembly was a 90-minute address by former President Lee Teng-Hui. Speaking to a packed house, President Lee called on the nation to support the students who showed the people of Taiwan their courage to occupy the Legislative Assembly for three weeks. But he drew attention to their vision for a Taiwan that would observe the democratic process because Taiwan’s democracy was hard-won with much sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears.
The Assembly issued a statement in support of the hunger fast of Lawyer Lim. In a symbolic gesture, the Assembly participants also fasted for one lunch. After the General Assembly, the Moderator and the General Assembly visited Lawyer Lim to deliver to him the Assembly’s statement of solidarity.
The PCT give thanks to God for the continuing prayers and support of the PCT ecumenical partners. Please pray that the PCT will discern and remain faithful to God’s many challenges and live out its life and witness in humility, walking humbly with its God. The Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan states that the PCT role in the world is “to make our Church the sign of hope through love and suffering.” PCT and all its members are called by God to work diligently and strive to become the genuine sign of hope in Taiwan by being faithful servants of our Lord, Jesus Christ.